The parents of a missing teenage college student made their appeal for help on national TV and discussed the ordeal they’ve been going through as authorities worked to find their daughter. Walt and Angela Harris — mother and stepfather to Aniah Blanchard, who seemingly disappeared late last month in Alabama — appeared on the “Dr. Phil Show” in an episode that was televised Thursday to discuss the possibility of Blanchard being the victim of “a setup,” among other working theories behind the 19-year-old’s apparent kidnapping.
Blanchard’s parents were speaking just days after police in Florida arrested Ibraheem Yazeed, a 29-year-old Alabama man, and charged with the college’s student’s kidnapping. However, Blanchard still remained missing as of Thursday afternoon.
“Personally, I feel like it was someone that, if it was a setup, that it was somebody who knew Aniah and knew her well,” Angela Harris said on the “Dr. Phil Show.”
Yazeed was arrested the night of Nov. 7 while out on bond for attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery in an unrelated case.
“That gave him the opportunity to get that close to her,” Walt Harris said.
Despite the odds of Blanchard’s survival growing dimmer with each day she remains missing, her parents refused to believe the worst.
“We’re trying to keep the hope that even though she had an injury that she is still alive,” Angela Harris said. “We have got to keep believing that.”
Blanchard’s stepfather, who is also a UFC fighter, spoke directly to her while appearing on Dr. Phil’s show.
“I love you baby girl,” Walt Harris said. “We’re looking for you. We’re doing everything that we can. We’re going to get you. I promise I won’t stop until we do. We love you.”
Blanchard is a student at the Southern Union State Community College in Opelika, Alabama. She was last seen in a convenience store at a gas station in Auburn on Oct. 23. Cops later discovered her damaged car at an apartment complex in Montgomery almost 55 miles away. It was reported that the vehicle was a 2017 Honda CRV and it wasn’t damaged before Blanchard went missing. However, evidence recovered from Blanchard’s car “determined that she was harmed and is considered to be a victim of foul play,” police said at the time.
Yazeed has a lengthy rap sheet and was one of the people caught on surveillance cameras at the same store where Blanchard was last seen.
Citing court records, the Associated Press reported that Yazeed “was freed from an Alabama jail in February after prosecutors said he beat a man unconscious and ‘near death’ in a vicious robbery.” In that case, “Yazeed was armed with a handgun in January when he pummeled William Joseph Fuller” while “[h]e and two other people also stole Fuller’s Rolex watch, rifle, handgun, wallet, bank card, and cash.”
The AP continued: “In 2012, he was accused of ramming his vehicle into a Montgomery police car at a Chevron station and charged with two counts of attempted murder of a police officer. He was fleeing from the two Montgomery officers at the time and plowed into the squad car ‘as the officers exited their vehicle in an attempt to kill the officers,’ a court affidavit states.”
In the meantime, other members of Blanchard’s family were praying for her safe return.
“I am relieved that we can finally obtain some answers and locate our daughter. I am prayerful that the Lord touches this young man’s heart so he will be honest and truthful and tell the authorities where our daughter is located,” Blanchard’s stepmother, Yashiba Blanchard, said in a statement. “These have been some long days and extremely sleepless nights,” she said. “I feel as if the Lord has heard our cries and the community’s cries for help with finding our daughter. We are continue [sic] to put our trust in God and pray that Chief Register and the APD with other law enforcement bring us Aniah and justice.”